Information About Potatoes

Information about potatoes: full of fiber and potassium, the potato is an amazing vegetable. Learn about its nutritional value and uses.

Potatoes are a healthy food. Full of fiber and potassium, this amazing vegetable has gained its rightful place at lunch and dinner tables across the country.

For many years potatoes were known as a food to be avoided. Known as a fattening and unhealthy food, the potato was to be avoided by people wanting to lose weight or eat healthy. Time and research has changed all that. Concerns of fat and sodium have been proven false. There is very little fat or sodium in a potato unless you add it yourself. Sour cream, butter and salt added to potatoes make them high in fat and sodium, but the potato alone or with low-fat spices and condiments is highly nutritious and delicious. The potato has now gained its rightful place at lunch and dinner tables everywhere.

The positive nutritional value in potatoes includes high fiber, high potassium, and low fat. Fiber research has shown that potatoes have one of the best sources of fiber that helps in lowering cholesterol. Research findings have also reported that a diet including potassium helps in deterring strokes and lowering blood pressure. Boiling potatoes will decrease the amount of potassium in them. It is best to bake or steam to retain nutrients.

Growing your own potatoes is, of course, the best way to get the greatest nutrients. When that is not possible potatoes can be purchased at any grocery store. There are different types of potatoes but that basic premise for buying will be the same. Look for potatoes that are firm and shaped well. Do not purchase potatoes that are green or that have sprouted. Green potatoes signal that solanine is present. Solanine is a substance that can give you diarrhea, vomiting, sleepiness, or itching. Although a single potato would not have nearly the amount of solanine to give you these symptoms, it is still best to avoid potatoes that have are green or have green spots. Solanine can affect that flavor of a potato.

Potatoes keep best in a cool place away from the light. A cellar or a cool basement is a perfect place for storing potatoes. Do not store in the refrigerator for best keeping. Potatoes can pick up the flavor of apples if stored by them. As you are ready to use potatoes, check them again for sprouting and green color. These can be cut out and the potato is still usable. Scrub potatoes well before using. A clean scrub brush or cloth can be used for this purpose.

Cooking and using potatoes is fun and diversified. Baking, steaming, boiling, mashing, and frying are the most common ways to cook and use.

Baking - Scrub potatoes well. Set oven to 375 degrees. Potatoes can be poked in several places so that don't explode in baking. Set directly on wire rack or on cookie baking sheet. They will take approximately one hour to bake. If baking more than about 15 potatoes, allow at least an extra half hour. Another easy way to bake potatoes is to wrap each potato in a sheet of foil wrap and set directly on the wire rack of the oven. Baking can also be done in the microwave. Line four potatoes in a medium sized plastic bag with zip top. Leave zip top open one inch. Cook five minutes in microwave. Turn bag over and cook five more minutes. Turn bag over and cook five more minutes or until easily pressed in when lightly squeezed with your thumb and index or pointer finger. Foil wrap cannot go in a microwave. A fork easily inserted into the potato is another way to test it for doneness.

Steaming - Scrub potatoes well. Potatoes can be steamed whole, cut, or peeled. Keep peelings on for greatest nutritional value. They can be eaten. Put into steamer on stove. Make sure steamer does not run out of water. Steamed potatoes will take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on their size.

Boiling - Scrub potatoes well. Potatoes can be peeled if desired. If mashing potatoes without peelings, peel potatoes before you boil them. Cut potatoes in half or fourths. Small pieces of potato will cook faster. Place potatoes in pan and cover with water. Make sure that pan is big enough to prevent spilling when water starts to boil. Turn stove to high heat until water boils. Then turn stove to simmer. Simmer potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain well.

Mashing - Most people prefer to eat mashed potatoes without the peel but can be made with the peeling if you like. After following directions for boiling, mash potatoes with a potato masher or electric mixer until smooth. Add milk, butter, and salt to taste and consistency desired. Canned milk makes very creamy and delicious mashed potatoes. Water can be used instead of milk if desired.

Frying - Scrub potatoes well and peel. Cut into thin strips or pieces. Fry in deep fat fryer as directed or pan fry. Add a few tablespoons of oil in frying pan. Add potatoes. Fry on medium heat, stirring and turning frequently until golden brown. Season potatoes with salt and pepper to taste. They are also delicious fried with sliced onions. French fries can also be made in this way. Cut the potatoes into long, thin strips. Fry them in the same way. If the oil is too hot, the outside will brown but the inside will not be cooked. Medium heat is best for frying potatoes.

Another delicious way to fix potatoes is a dish called 'Twice Baked Potatoes'. Bake potatoes. Let cool to touch. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out potato leaving peeling in tact. Mash potatoes. Add butter, sour cream, chives, milk, salt and pepper to taste. Fill potato peelings with potato mixture. Top with cheddar cheese. Place in oven at 350 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes until cheese melts and potatoes are heated through.

Potatoes are useful in other ways. If your mouth is burning a bite of cooked or raw potato is an excellent way to cool a mouth that has been heated with hot chili peppers or salsa. If you put too much salt in a stew or soup a peeled raw potato put into them will soak up salt and make the dishes less salty. Raw potatoes cut into different shapes can be used as stamps with an inkpad or food coloring for a fun craft for children.

Enjoy potatoes! They are fun, delicious, and nutritious!

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